Car Feels Different After A Timing Belt Change – ANSWERED

If you recently spent money on replacing your timing belt or chain or gone to the time and effort of doing it yourself, you may notice for your car feels a little different.

In this article, we explore if the changes are in your mind (placebo effect) or whether there are changes that can happen when the timing belt is changed.

Generally, changing the timing belt will have no impact on performance unless the old belt was changed because there were signs of it becoming worn. Perhaps it was causing vibration or a very noisy rattle.

Any perceived performance increase is likely due to imagination rather than improved engine output.

Now, if your car is performing worse after a timing belt change, this is cause for concern. I know people that have gone to reputable car shops to have their timing belts changed only to come out and find that their performance was significantly worse.

Of course, this is annoying as you have paid big money to replace the belt in the first place, but it can also be very worrying, as any snap in the belt or chain can result in major engine damage.

 If you are experiencing reduced performance or any noise or vibration, get your car back to the car shop ASAP and ask them to explore thoroughly and correct anything they’ve done incorrectly.

All car shops should check everything is lined up perfectly before returning the car.

If possible, don’t drive the car again until the cam belt or chain has been inspected, as you could do further damage to the car engine.

Don’t let the car shop send you away. You need to insist that the issue is looked into. If the timing belt has been fitted incorrectly, it could snap and damage the pistons in your engine, resulting in a total engine rebuild.  

It is far easier to get the issue resolved now by the car shop than struggle to get them to compensate you if they’ve done bad work or after the engine is damaged.

Engine Mounts

Vibration could indicate that the engine mount was loosened to be able to fit the timing belt or chain and was not tightened correctly.

Most engines have four mounts to secure the engine in place. If one is loose, it can affect how the car feels, especially when turning, as the engine’s weight will shift on the chassis when it’s not meant to. 

A common issue is that the motor mounts were already rusted, and the procedure of loosening and tightening them has made me fail quicker than they would normally. 

This is a consequence of changing your timing chain and not something a car shop should be liable for.

Of course, they should let you know before leaving that the engine mount is failing and give you the chance to get it rectified by the car shop before you drive it away.

Balance Shaft

The cause of vibration is often because the balance shaft has not been lined correctly inside the crankcase.  

This part’s only job is to stop vibration, and if it is fitted incorrectly, it won’t do its job. Most four valve cars have these; if one is out by a few teeth, it won’t run smoothly. 

Normally when they aren’t fitted correctly, the cam sensor will throw a code that will appear on your dashboard but not always.

Water Pump

Many times the water pump is replaced at the same time as a timing belt or chain. It’s inexpensive, but if it fails, it can cost a lot of money in labor.

Therefore it’s normally better to replace a timing chain and water pump simultaneously. 

A new water pump will have little positive or negative effect on your car’s performance.

There is a possibility that your car will be less prone to overheating if the water pump is more effective than the old one.

Still, if you change your water pump simply because it was easier to do it at the same time as changing the chain, there will be no difference in performance either way. 

If your car now has any of these three symptoms, your timing chain has likely been fitted incorrectly by a tooth or two.

A. Worse vibrations

B. Louder engine.

C. Sluggish feel 

Another possible symptom of a bad timing chain is that the miles per gallon goes down quite dramatically. Your car’s timing belt synchronizes the can and the crank to work harmoniously. 

Any slight deviation from this will cause your engine to work harder and burn more fuel.

Turbo Boost Hose

Check out the turbo boost hose if your car feels sluggish after having a timing belt changed. On some car makes, this has to be removed and re-tightened after the timing belt change procedure has been completed. 

A leak in a turbo boost hose will stop the turbo from producing the amount of power it usually does, and it may make your car feel sluggish.

Belt Tensioner

It’s always worth enquiring if the belt tensioner was replaced at the same time as a timing belt or chain. Normally they come with a timing belt replacement kit.

However, if you have doubts about the competence of the car shop you’ve used, the shop may have skipped this to save time. 

In Conclusion

You won’t notice any improved performance after replacing your timing belt. However, if it’s been fitted incorrectly, you may notice a decrease in performance.  

If the belt is out by a tooth or two, you may notice a rattling noise, sluggish performance,  the engine making a louder noise than normal and abnormal vibrations from the front of the car. 

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